Alabaster council condemns county redistricting plan

Published 9:10 pm Monday, August 1, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Alabaster City Council voted unanimously during its Aug. 1 meeting to condemn a proposed Shelby County Commission redistricting plan, and said the plan would “fragment and dilute” the city’s representation on future commissions.

The vote came a few weeks after county officials released the details of the proposed redistricting plan. If passed, the plan would place parts of Alabaster in six different commission districts, which is one more than the city is currently in.

Under the new plan, Shelby County would have nine commission districts, each of which would elect a representative to serve on the County Commission. The commission is tasked with redrawing the district lines after every official census count.

Alabaster officials said splitting the city into several districts could cause future commission members to ignore Alabaster’s needs, and said the proposed redistricting plan would place the Weatherly subdivision and the Colonial Promenade shopping center in a different district than much of the rest of the city.

Alabaster Ward 2 Councilman Bob Hicks, while reading the council’s resolution opposing the plan, said the proposed redistricting plan would “have a practical intent to deny Alabaster equal representation,” and said the city would be opposed to any plan splitting Alabaster into more than two commission districts.

Hicks also asked city officials and residents to contact the County Commission and attend commission meetings to voice their opposition to the matter.

Alabaster Mayor David Frings said the proposed plan would make it difficult for an Alabaster resident to be elected to the County Commission.

“If (the county) is not trying to keep an Alabaster resident from running and being elected to the commission, they have done that without trying,” Frings said.

In mid-July, Alabaster City Administrator George Henry voiced the city’s concerns during a County Commission work session, and asked the commission to redraw the lines to place Alabaster in fewer districts.

Henry said the county “deliberately” worked to keep cities such as Helena, Chelsea and Columbiana in one or two commission districts, but did not give Alabaster the same consideration.

“They purposely spent time to keep communities of interest together. Then they got to Alabaster and we are in six different districts,” Henry said. “I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m telling you what got you to this vote tonight.”

County Commission President Corley Ellis previously said the commission will take Alabaster’s concerns into consideration before making a final decision on the new districts.

County Commissioner and Alabaster resident Dan Acker said the commission’s “main goal” is making sure the new districts are approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.